Paul Rodriguez grew up outside of Los Angeles, California and was 10 years old when his father won a guitar in a poker game. His dad gave the guitar to Paul and that triggered a lifelong love of playing music. After a few years of learning to play guitar, as a teenager he also learned to play the trumpet, trombone, tuba and the string bass. Along the way he learned what he considers to be invaluable skills, to read and arrange music.
While in high school Paul formed a band with some classmates and he remembers early gigs when they played Iron Butterfly’s In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida and White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane over and over again because those were the only songs they knew. As he progressed he also arranged music for his high school jazz band and played in guitar masses as part of the first time the Catholic Church allowed guitar music in services. Eventually Paul and three members of his first band formed a 9-piece horn band called The Trend. Paul was the principal arranger, guitarist, and a lead vocalist. The covers they did by Chicago, Tower of Power, and Blood, Sweat & Tears remain as some of his favorite songs.
Paul was a music major in college when The Trend was offered a tour of the western United States. Soon after, the band took on professional management and signed with Capitol Records. They went on to record several songs and released three singles with Paul as arranger on all and co-writer on two of the songs. The Trend was written up in Tiger Beat Magazine, a teen celebrity publication, as a fresh up-and-coming band. They opened for Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, Anne Murray, Tony Orlando and Dawn, Dobie Gray, B.J. Thomas and other famous pop artists of the day. Lack of promotion from Capitol led to the demise of The Trend but the band members remain close friends to this day.
Later Paul moved north to Santa Rosa, California, began writing some songs and started a recording studio in his home. He was making a name for himself as a solo performer as well as a bandleader and he felt a strong pull to play music full time. Soon he was offered a 4 month contract as part of a quartet with piano, bass and drums on a cruise ship. He quit his day job and spent the summer singing and playing tunes from the American songbook as they toured the Caribbean. It was there he met his future wife, Nancy, who was also a performer on the ship. One of the highlights of the cruise ship adventure was when Tony Bennett walked into the lounge where the band was performing. Paul had a one-of-a-kind moment when he sang “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” as Mr. Bennett listened from a few feet away.
A few years later Nancy joined Paul in California and their lives were full of music. They started an 8-piece top 40 cover band called Higher Ground, a sax/guitar duo and a quartet, and played dance venues, wineries, weddings and eateries. Paul also joined Crystal Wind, a “New Age” band which recorded the album, Inner Traveler.
One of Paul’s favorite experiences at that time was writing the score for a Peanuts television special called “It’s the Girl In The Red Truck, Charlie Brown”. The writing and arranging for combined animation/live action was an exciting challenge. Paul learned a great deal and got a real thrill working with Peanuts creator Charles Schulz and producer/head animator Bill Melendez.
Paul and Nancy then moved to Los Angeles where Paul became music director for an interfaith church. While there he wrote many heartfelt and inspiring instrumentals for their Sunday worship and, with Nancy, created an a cappella quartet called Eclectica. One of the bonuses of living in L.A. came about when both Paul and Nancy were asked to be part of a chorus singing back up for Barbra Streisand at the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, a fun memory!
Ultimately Paul, Nancy and their daughter Sarah moved across the country to a town near Boston, Massachusetts, where Nancy grew up. On the east coast Paul has continued reaching out to talented musicians and creating bands to satisfy his love of performing. Paul says, “When the artist and the audience connect, there is a magic that happens. That’s what I love about making and performing music. It may have come from being a shy kid. I think music became my way to connect with people.”
The Paul Rodriguez Band was formed with the intention of doing songs that require a level of musicianship that most local cover bands do not have and Polarized Guru stems from Paul’s love of jazz and fusion music. The purpose of the band was to see how far the musicians could push themselves to play those songs they admired but didn’t have the chops to play (yet). Guru has become a stellar band with masterful musicians who are set on improving musicianship and writing original songs that challenge them. Paul has always been inspired by artists of high caliber. It’s what drives him to make his music the best it can be.
Polarized Guru happened to be playing a backyard gig one Sunday in August of 2017 when a stranger walked up to listen to the band. His name was Mark Mazzetti, an independent A&R producer with many years of experience working at A&M Records in Los Angeles and the owner of Record Company in a Box. His clients include Janet Jackson, John Mayer, and Aaron Neville. Mark had just moved from L.A. to a house down the street. He heard the music and came over to introduce himself.
Although it was Polarized Guru’s sound that caught his attention, over the next few months it was Paul’s career that most interested Mark. The two started a collaboration resulting in the creation of Paul’s first album with 7 original tunes. It was recorded at Red 13 Studios in Framingham, Massachusetts, and Paul was signed by Rehegoo Music in March of 2020. Paul and Mark have been promoting the album for licensing purposes while Rehegoo covers the streaming market.
As Paul continues to write and sing and play his own material is there a message he hopes to convey with his music? “Absolutely! That different people can learn to understand each other and love each other through music.”
How would you describe your style?
Traditional Pop with a bit of rock, jazz, and Latin influences.
Why do you do what you do?
I can’t help it! Since the age of 10, I’ve always had a guitar in my hand and a song in my voice. I love music and I don’t know where I would be without it.
Ambition or talent: which matters more to you?
It would have to be talent first. I would be embarrassed if my ambition was driving a less talented me.
What inspires you to create music?
Listening to recorded music and watching a live performance. My juices get going when I hear other artists.
How did you find the scouting process in Rehegoo?
My manager Mark Mazzetti is totally responsible for my music being introduced to Rehegoo.
How did you feel when signing a contract with Rehegoo?
On top of the world!
What is the greatest achievement of your career so far?
Writing and performing the score for a Peanuts television special called “It’s the Girl In The Red Truck, Charlie Brown”.
Working with Peanuts creator Charles Schulz and producer/head animator Bill Melendez was a real thrill.
What is the best and worst gig you have ever played?
There are two best gigs. I played on a cruise ship with a quartet for four months in 1982 (It’s where I met my future wife, Nancy). Also, my old band called The Trend played at the Hawaiian Hut in Waikiki, Hawaii, in the 70s for four months. We played six nights a week, five hours a night, and there was always a huge line of people waiting to get in.
The worst gig I ever played was at a club in Oakland, California. I was hired to play with an R&B band. I was expecting to have music to read. They were expecting me to know all the songs already. I knew a few but for the most part I pretended to play. The band was mad at me the whole night. I felt two inches high.
What is your worst and best fan moment?
My worst fan moment was when I was playing a solo gig, a drunk woman insisted on singing harmony with me. She was not a singer in any respect, but she was persistent. She finally passed out.
My best fan moment? Everybody else. I am always so grateful to have people listen to my music and become fans.
What is a favorite song of yours?
ONE. It is a song that wrote itself and isn’t that true of a lot of great songs? I wrote it during a time when I wasn’t writing many songs so it was more of a surprise. There is a simplicity to the melody that works so well with the lyrics. And of course it is a love song to my wife, my greatest inspiration.
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